Women in STEM News Item

As part of International Women Into Engineering Day on 23 June 2022, West College Scotland is launching the next phase of activity in their Women into STEM project.


The project – which is led by West College Scotland in partnership with Forth Valley College and Equate Scotland – is gearing up for an exciting second phase after a full year of encouraging more female representation into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles.!

Women in STEM News Item

Funded by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) the dynamic initiative were quick to welcome Equate Scotland and Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) on board after launching in April 2021.  Equate have been busy engaging with employers and apprentices and YES have delivered engagement activities in secondary schools in Renfrewshire and Forth Valley. 


During February and March 2022, YES ran eight virtual STEM workshops (four in Renfrewshire and four in Forth Valley) for S5 and S6 pupils. The workshops were interactive, with guest speakers from STEM related sectors. The overall purpose was to raise awareness and encourage the pupils to create marketing messages to help their peer group consider STEM subjects and career pathways with confidence.


The sessions culminated in an online ‘Women into STEM’ showcase and schools involved  included: Trinity High School and Paisley Grammar School in Renfrewshire and Braes High School in Forth Valley – whose fantastic and thought provoking STEM Marketing Campaigns will be available on the new landing page.


The Women into STEM Project – which will run to 31 march 2023 – has been working with Equate Scotland to work with stakeholders, employers and partners to develop awareness, access, and participation for young women to thrive within STEM activities and pathways. The initiative also hopes to develop sustainable Apprenticeship Pathways, and recruit, prepare, and progress female pupils aged between 16-24 into STEM careers – including into Engineering Modern Apprenticeships – across the West of Scotland and the Forth Valley area.


Working alongside local employers such as Howdens, Scotrail, Diodes, Alexander Dennis Ltd, Ineos, and Petrofac, Women in STEM has been looking to understand and challenge stereotypes and develop the early years parts of this pipeline, to impact upon attitudinal and cultural change. The project hopes to make inclusive workplaces the norm not the exception and support female apprentices to build their peer support network with access to role models at the very start of their career, encouraging the apprentices to think about the challenges and opportunities, developing their confidence and the skills to succeed.


Morven McColl, Programme Executive, Young Enterprise Scotland, said: “Over the course of four weeks of the virtual STEM workshops, I delivered workshops to support the girls in developing a marketing campaign that would encourage more young women into STEM based careers. It was a delight to work with these fantastic, driven young women through the project and I was so impressed by the levels of dedication, creativity and enthusiasm shown. The final marketing campaigns were of a high standard; I think this demonstrates why getting young people themselves to create messaging that will attract their peers is so valuable. Who better to influence girls interested in STEM than their peers?”


Shona Darroch, HR Business Partner, Diodes Semiconductors GB Ltd, said: “I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Women in Stem project.  We must do all we can to support more women into and returning to STEM related careers and this project gave me and Diodes a chance to work with other companies to share ideas and best practice.  It also was a great way to support our current female engineering apprentices, in what is still a male dominated environment.  But with projects like this, we can hopefully start to even out the gender gap that engineering has.” 


Paul Fagan, Head of Employability, West College Scotland said: “Our Partnership recognises that there is an acute gender imbalance in the Scottish manufacturing sector and engineering workforce.  Whilst the gender imbalance is extreme, there are significant opportunities within manufacturing and engineering trades, with the latest Regional Skills Assessment forecasting demand for 5,700 jobs in the west region alone by 2027.  Our project can empower women to access and develop in these valuable jobs, through the development of robust skills pipelines.  For our College and our partners, this positive action reflects a commitment to putting equality and diversity at the core of our delivery.”


William Forrest, Operations Manager for Engineering, Forth Valley College, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative in order to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.  Our world needs engineers to innovate and make changes which improve our lives and reduce our harm to the planet.  This partnership will raise awareness of the wide range of opportunities out there and encourage more young women to be a part of the fourth industrial revolution.”


Laura Smith-Gulliver, Training and Development Manager, Equate Scotland said: “The jobs of the future will rely on STEM skills, driven by an innovative and diverse workforce – vital to navigating a post-COVID world, climate change and other global challenges. Improvements in workplace equality are being made – but still persists in the attitudes, actions and processes of employers and society including how girls are encouraged to view their future workplaces and how women in STEM are supported and empowered when they get there. With STEM industries still dominated by men, women can face a challenging working environment – building networks, have fewer role models, and less peer support.”


Anyone wishing to find out more about the Women into STEM initiative, should contact Gillian Gray, West College Scotland’s Development Funding Executive – Business, Enterprise & Innovation, on gillian.gray@wcs.ac.uk .

barshaw fun day

West College Scotland were delighted to scoop not one, but two top accolades in this week’s Herald Higher Education Awards.  The awards were presented in a glittering ceremony held in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Tuesday 31 May. This is the seventh year that the Awards have taken place celebrating the leading figures and rising stars in Scottish higher education.

Our James Frew Academy, a bespoke apprenticeship training programme developed in partnership with local plumbing and heating giant, James Frew Ltd received the award for Outstanding Business Engagement in Colleges.

Head of Operations Gordon Mack said: “At James Frew, we believe our apprenticeship programme is sector leading. The collaborative nature of our partnership with WCS is essential in helping to improve the life chances of our young workforce.”

Whilst Your Employability Skills (YES) project, a personalised learning programme for individuals with multiple barriers into employment and education was recognised for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award.

West College Scotland Principal and Chief Executive, Liz Connolly said, “I’m delighted that the College has won these two prestigious awards.  The hard work, creativity and innovation of our staff continue to develop and deliver exciting initiatives and it’s great to see this being recognised.  I’d like to offer my congratulations to all of the nominees and winners on the night.”


The ROCCO Awards returned with a roar on Friday 19th November at the Normandy Hotel, Renfrew. An ecstatic crowd of 400 people cheered 17 winners being crowned at Renfrewshire’s largest black-tie business event, now in its 17th year. The ambitious destination brand PAISLEY.IS returned as main sponsor for a third year signifying their ongoing support for the Renfrewshire business community.

Chamber President Liz Connolly highlighted the chamber’s achievements since Rocco 2019 and focused on the response in supporting the business community during the pandemic. The guests were piped into the Normandy by the talented St Columba’s School Pipe Band.

Mary Crearie Director, Communities, Housing and Planning Services, Renfrewshire Council gave the principal sponsor address and profiled the economic grant support awarded by Renfrewshire Council of over £53 million to the business community.

The ROCCO raffle raised an outstanding £9,000 supporting St Vincent’s Hospice and Kidney Research UK in memory of much-loved chamber director and friend Elaine Sherlock from Ingliston Country Club & Hotel.

The Rocco favourite host Fred MacAulay kept the audience laughing all evening and the GGC NHS Choir drew a warm and ecstatic response from the guests following their stirring performance with many of the choir members having been on the front line with the response to Covid-19.

ROCCO Award for Environmental Sustainability – Sponsored by Paisley Is.
Winner: Glasgow Airport
ROCCO Award for Developing the Young Workforce sponsored by Developing the Young Workforce (West)
Winner: Rolls-Royce plc
ROCCO Award for Innovation & Technology – Sponsored by Creation IP.
Winner: Glasgow Airport
ROCCO Award for Excellence in Manufacturing – Sponsored by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.
Winner: Rolls-Royce plc
ROCCO Award for International Trade – Sponsored by Glasgow Airport.
Winner: Volantes Technical Recruitment Ltd
ROCCO Award for Excellence in Business Resilience – Sponsored by Invest In Renfrewshire & Renfrewshire Council
Winner: Right Way Credit Union
ROCCO Award for Most Promising New Business 2021 – Sponsored by Renfrewshire Council
Winner: Squared Insurance Brokers Limited
ROCCO Award for Renfrewshire’s Favourite Business – Sponsored by Paisley Daily Express
Winner: I Am Me Scotland
ROCCO Award for Resilience in Tourism – Sponsored by Paisley Is
Winner: Open Road Scotland
ROCCO Award for Family Business of the Year – Sponsored by The Malcolm Group
Winner: Carli’s Kindergarten Ltd
ROCCO Award for Young Business Person of the Year – sponsored by Rolls-Royce plc
Winner: Andrew O’Brien J.G.B Steelcraft (UK) Limited
ROCCO Award for Employer of the Year – sponsored by West College Scotland
Winner: Arnold Clark
ROCCO Award for Community Champion of the Year – sponsored by Engage Renfrewshire & The Royal Bank of Scotland
Winner: I Am Me Scotland
ROCCO Award for Outstanding Performing Business <=5 employees – sponsored by Braehead
Winner: Plush Plans Ltd
ROCCO Award For Outstanding Performing Business 5>25 employees – sponsored by The University of the West of Scotland
Winner: J.G.B Steelcraft (UK) Limited
ROCCO Award for Outstanding Performing Business >25 employees – sponsored by Doosan Babcock
Winner: Wholesale Domestic Equipment Company Ltd
ROCCO Award for Business Leader of the Year – sponsored by Diageo
Winner: Eddie Hawthorne, Chief Executive & Group MD, Arnold Clark

Bob Grant chief exec said” Friday’s event marked a crucial step on the road to normality for our business community. The board and team at Renfrewshire felt it was crucial to run Rocco 2021 this year and plant a flag to mark the resilience and recovery underway. We witnessed a fantastic response from all our sponsors, companies entering and our guests on the night.”

“You can view all images on our Facebook page and comments on #2021Rocco. I encourage all Rocco winners to utilise their win across their PR channels. Thank you to the entire Chamber team for all their work before and on the night to ensure our 400 guests had a great time. Special thanks to principle sponsor Paisley.is, Diageo who supplied our drinks reception, Cameron Presentations & Gap TV for all the AV, the Printbrokers for the program, Gary & Jan from NS Design for the excellent social media coverage and the Normandy Hotel for the superb meal and service. Thanks also to St Columba’s School Pipe Band who welcomed guests in such style.”

“Finally, thank you the GGC NHS Choir. It was a privilege to have them entertain us with many of the choir members having been on the front line with the response to Covid-19 from our wonderful NHS. Planning for Rocco 2022 is already underway, and we hope to see you enter and attend next year.”

View the 2021 ROCCO Awards photo album on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RenfrewshireChamberofCommerce/posts/306925744771863

Pop along to West College Scotland’s Ferguslie Drop-in session on Thursday 12 August (10am-1pm) and sign up for a community course starting this month!

They’re offering: Cyber security – Wellbeing – Criminology – Early Education – Mindfulness – Brick Work Skills courses and MORE!

Take a look at the full range of courses available here: https://bit.ly/wcsferguslie

Alternatively, call Kathleen on 0141 842 1015 for further info.

Claire and Marie SAS

West College Scotland (WCS) has become the first Scottish college to achieve the Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) accreditation.

Claire and Marie SAS

WCS is committed to ensuring young adult carers in the west of Scotland have the same opportunities and access to high quality Further Education as those without care responsibilities. Young adult carers make a huge contribution to their families and wider society, but in doing so can miss out on other life chances. The changes West College Scotland has introduced are aimed at ensuring local young adult carers have the chance to achieve their full potential.  


Working with the Lottery-funded Driving Change Project, which aims to improve the support available to young adult carers in Further Education across the UK, West College Scotland has actively removed some of the barriers that can prevent young carers from accessing continued education, developed new policies and procedures, improved access to bespoke support and raised awareness – including demonstrating good practice in supporting carers in the wider community. 


Iain Forster-Smith, Assistant Principal Student Life and Skills at West College Scotland said:

“We are delighted to have achieved the Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support accreditation.   Student Carers must cope with the extra pressure of caring for a loved one and this award acknowledges that we recognise their contribution and have robust Student Carer support services in place and a fantastic team supporting our students.”


He added, “WCS works closely with local services such as Carers Trust Scotland, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire Carers Centre, and Y-Sort It in West Dunbartonshire which provide wraparound support for Student Carers covering finance, networking and physiological needs. This really is a fantastic recognition of the hard work, commitment and innovation which has been going on across the College.’


The Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) assessment report on WCS observed “West College Scotland has implemented effective systems and processes to support early identification of student carers and ensured cross-college uniformity in provision. The Student Services team show a clear commitment to developing support for YACs alongside other vulnerable student groups. There is clear evidence of wide cross-college commitment and understanding of processes and responsibilities, and staff recognise the benefits of new developments for students.”


Naomi Sykes, QSCS Development Worker, Carers Federation Limited said:

“The Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) accreditation demonstrates West College Scotland’s commitment to improving access to education for young and young adult carers.” 


The Quality Standard criteria helps schools, colleges and universities develop effective processes to identify student carers and to improve their wellbeing, learning experiences and educational outcomes. Importantly, the process helps participating organisations to provide consistent provision of support and enables them to monitor the collective and individual outcomes for their students with caring roles.  


Naomi added, “West College Scotland has developed comprehensive systems to ensure student carers are recognised and supported to achieve their aspirations and goals, raising awareness of young and young adult carers across the college and increasing understanding of the additional challenges they face in education.”


Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute said:

 “Many congratulations to West College Scotland for becoming the first college in Scotland to achieve the Driving Change quality standard in carers support. Young adult carers make a huge contribution to their families and society, yet they too often miss out on vital opportunities and support. The changes that the college has put in place will give local young adult carers the chance to pursue their talents and achieve their potential. We look forward to working with many other colleges in Scotland to build on the achievements of West College Scotland so that young adult carers across the country get the opportunities they deserve.”


West College Scotland students can receive confidential support by contacting info@wcs.ac.uk. The Student Carers team assess each carer’s personal situation and identify what support mechanisms are available through the College and includes bespoke induction programmes, support services and financial support. 


As a nationally recognised accreditation, it is hoped that both prospective and current students will feel more comfortable disclosing that they are carers and are more aware of what support mechanisms are possible to make sure that the College recognises their unique circumstances. West College Scotland welcomes students from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds and will offer appropriate, discrete support.


West College Scotland August Clearing Days: 2-7pm – Pre-Register Now!

Greenock (Finnart): 10 August

Clydebank: 11 August

Paisley: 12 August


Whether you are a school leaver or an adult returner looking to upskill or retrain, West College Scotland’s Clearing Days are the perfect opportunity to chat with staff and sign up for an August Start course that’s right for you!

Over the three events they have over 25 curriculum departments attending alongside our Student Services Department, who can guide you through your application.

They’ll also have representatives from Student Funding, the Student Association, Student Wellbeing, Enabling Services and  Digital Device Support, who’ll be able to give further advice and support available to you whilst you study at College.

If you’re a school pupil in the Senior Phase they have some options available to you to enhance your school experience. Go along and chat to their Schools Programme and Foundation Apprenticeship Team!

To minimise queuing on the day and to receive Clearing Day updates direct to your inbox:


WCS Photography Alumni open studio

Two former Photography students have taken the time during the latest restrictions to get their new business venture up and running, and plan to open a new photography studio on Saturday 1 May in Govan, Glasgow.  They have a few ideas to help adapt to the current situation and will open in Govan Workspace which is playing an important part in the regeneration of the local area.

WCS Photography Alumni open studio

Alan Maclean, 36, from Irvine now living in Hamilton and Mark Billingham, 37, from Glasgow and living in Paisley, both studied HNC and HND Photography at West College Scotland.  The pair met at college and went on to become close friends and now business partners!

Alan bought his first DSLR camera but struggled to work out how to use it, so after a quick search found a photography class at WCS and the rest is history.  Mark on the other hand studied photography whilst still at Reid Kerr College prior to its merger with WCS and had been enjoying taking pictures on his phone whilst living in Malta.  On his return to Paisley, Mark wanted to take his photography to the next level and WCS was the obvious option given its handy location and options for photography courses.  Alan said:

“The lecturers at the college were fantastic and always on hand to help out.  There was support for other areas too although I never needed it.”

Alan enjoyed all the aspects of the course although eventually settled on portraiture as his favourite.  His key to success is to find what you’re passionate about and master it rather than trying to be good at everything.  Since leaving college Alan has worked as a school photographer whilst also starting a company called STILLSSCOTLAND to do stills work in TV and film.  Now his latest project is the new studio with Mark.

When asked about his time at WCS Mark said:

“Having the right guidance was great and I got an immense sense of achievement when I presented work I was proud of.  My biggest regret is not asking for more help as there were plenty of resources and the lecturers were great!”

Mark’s advice to prospective students would be not to be too self-critical and not to compare yourself to others.  He echoes Alan in saying to find your style and to excel at it allowing technical aspects to develop naturally with ideas and creativity being more important.  After WCS, Mark went on to study a BA in photography, which he recently finished, and has an exciting start to his career with the new studio after a brief pause due to the pandemic.

Without their experiences at the College both Mark and Alan say that their studio wouldn’t have been possible.  Although Alan feels that in the photography industry it is your portfolio and your personality that are most important, when asked if he would recommend studying at WCS he said:

“100%. If I never went to WCS I wouldn’t have advanced as far as I’ve come if I was just self-taught. I also wouldn’t have met my business partner and friend Mark.”

He says in order to be successful you can’t be shy, need to be able to think on your feet and be outgoing and approachable.  Alan says that now everyone uses smartphones to take photos it has made the industry more accessible but at the same time it is important not to let this put you off making a proper career out of it.  His ultimate dream is to photograph celebrities and to compile the images and stories behind them.  Either way he can’t see himself doing anything else and hopes that in a year he’ll be running a successful studio!

Mark believes in order to be successful that belief, ambition, determination and being adaptable and prepared for change are key.  The photography industry relies on self-motivation and it’s important to keep up with the ever-changing trends and techniques, so you are constantly learning and looking for the next step.  He says jobs are not guaranteed in this industry – like many others at the moment – so you should expect to have to put in the effort to be successful but the rewards of doing something you love and knowing every job will be completely different are worth it.  When asked if he would recommend studying at WCS he says:

“I would go back to WCS in a heartbeat as I miss the pressure, the community, the relationships and the excitement of result days but there’s only one shot at it and it goes fast, so enjoy every minute of it.”

If you are interested in furthering your photography skills, or like Alan and Mark want to begin a successful career in photography, then apply to WCS to give you the best start.  We have courses for complete beginners up to experienced photographers and our lecturers are always on hand to help you realise your potential.  And don’t forget to check out the new studio in Govan to see what is possible when you study at WCS!

Click here for our Photography Courses available at our Clydebank and Paisley campuses this Autumn.

West College Scotland has some last minute availability for the following certificated classes! Classes are FREE to those in receipt of benefit or Working Tax Credits etc. To find out more about the courses, contact Kathleen on 07980 696139 – kathleen.brown@wcs.ac.uk.

Practical Fabric Skills – WCS Paisley Campus – Mondays 9.15am to 12.15pm.

Personal Development Sewing Class – WCS Paisley Campus – Mondays 12.45 to 3.45pm.

Administrative Activities – Delivered Online with a college lecturer via Microsoft Teams – Tuesdays 9.15am to 12.15pm (Learners must have reasonable IT skills)

Contemporary Families – Delivered online with a college lecturer via Microsoft Teams – Wednesdays 9.15am to 12.15pm (ONLY 2 PLACES LEFT – learners must have reasonable IT skills. PC and Internet support is available in WCS Paisley Campus classroom).

Exploring Wellbeing – Delivered online with a college lecturer via Microsoft Teams -Wednesdays 12.45 to 3.45pm.

Psychology – Delivered online with a college lecturer via Microsoft Teams – Fridays 12.45 to 3.45pm (4 PLACES LEFT – PC and Internet support available in WCS Paisley Campus classroom).

Congratulations go to West College Scotland’s HND Interior Architecture and HNC Graphic Design students that worked on a fantastic re-brand and refurbishment client project with Multan Tandoori in Paisley – Paisley’s oldest established Indian restaurant.

David Kandola, Owner of the 44-seater George Street restaurant got in touch with the College last year looking for some concept ideas for a face-lift for the popular curry haunt’s bar and restaurant areas.

After an initial consultation with the Graphic Design department, the project brief was to include logo redesign and typeface for all the branding in the restaurant. As the project gained momentum, the brief was expanded further to involve the HND Interior Design students to revamp the whole of the interior too. This included walls, floor, ceiling, tables, chairs and bar area.

David invited both the HN Graphics & HN Interior Design students into his restaurant for a site visit and to consult with him, he also visited the colleges Paisley campus to see progress. The next stage of the project entailed students presenting their (halfway stage) concepts to David in the restaurant. This was a great experience for students to gain feedback of their ideas to see if they were on the right track and received feedback from David whilst they were sitting in the premises.

Design Lecturer, Alison Quinn commented, ‘David’s passion for the project shone through from his initial meeting with the students. As the client, David provided valuable feedback to the students individually during the design process.  The great thing about Live Client Design Briefs is that they give the students real time experience and an opportunity to interact with the client directly.’

David said, ‘We’ve had our logo updated twice over the past 10 years, but we never considered an interior update other than wall colour palettes and table layouts. As the discussions went on, we were keen to see the dining area updated as well as the restaurant signage outside. We wanted to create a new dining area which is modern, cosy but yet have a personal touch to what the restaurant is about and that’s the love of Indian food.’

The final presentation was due to take place and prizes issued for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Sadly, we’ve not had the opportunity to pitch the final designs however, we’re looking forward to welcoming the students and David back onto campus in the new term. In the meantime, we’ve got some feedback from some of our students who were involved.

David commented, ‘The development of the student project came out extremely well, a lot of very unique outlooks and much variety. We’re looking forward to taking forward the winning designs and make them a reality – it’s the perfect way to showcase their achievements and show their hard work throughout this project.’

Curriculum & Quality Leader Billy Kinnear said,‘The Multan project has been a great success for our students and their client. The Art & Design department pride themselves on working on a high volume of ‘live client briefs’. This allows our students to engage with real industry and allows them to develop their skills and networking. They also have a chance to actively populate their CV, which is essential for their career.

It was a pleasure to work on this project on a large-scale with Multan, Graphic Design and Interior Design students. The standard of work was very high and they did themselves and the college proud.’

HNC Graphics Student: Sean Kelly

HND Interior Design Student: Abby Craig

Ronnel Caliwag: HND Interior Design

Andrew Eaglesham: HND Interior Design

Great news! West College Scotland has a new range of beginner courses launching this autumn at the Ferguslie Centre!

The Ferguslie Learning Centre provides Microsoft azure certification for adults who have little or no prior qualifications and delivers courses that increase employability skills and career opportunities.

The college would like you to know that they are continually working on how they can deliver their courses safely to community learners. When the College starts back in Autumn they envisage a ‘blended’ approach which may include online contact and socially distanced classes. They are in the early stages of planning and more information will be available soon.

To find out more about the courses highlighted, or to register your interest contact Kathleen on 07980 696139 -or email kathleen.brown@wcs.ac.uk